The 2021 USS Kearsarge Sightings

Dave Beaty
8 min readMar 28, 2022

Mysterious UAP Encounters in the Navy’s Atlantic OPAREAS

Night Flight ops On USS Kearsarge

I’m thinking about that one time in March of 2022 when I was contacted by two senior military officers from the Air Force and the Marine Corps about UFOs. Yeah, that happened. I soon learned that the USAF officer recently retired and the USMC officer was out of the service for about 5 years. Both pilots. Both American heroes in my mind, as are all vets that have deployed to America’s protracted wars in the Middle East post 911. But unfortunately, I can‘t say these officers were Men in Black or on “crash retrieval teams”. At least they were not admitting to it to me. They were both genuinely curious about UFOs. Needless to say, I introduced them to each other. The former is an air force officer who didn’t personally witness any UFOs during his career but he did say he’s quite sure DoD has compelling evidence of extraordinary flight performance of UAPs re: Luis Elizondo’s 5 observables. Elizondo ran the DoD OUSD(I) Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification program through his resignation in 2017.

The AATIP Program’s Five Observables of Unidentified UAP

But it’s a very strange tale indeed that the Marine pilot told me that I’m relating here in this very developing story. Not all the facts are in, but it’s also important to get what is known out there. Please keep in mind these details about the UAP sighting are from a second-hand witness. I’ll call the former Marine pilot “Mark” since he does not want to go on the record. Mark himself indeed did see “something” in the skies of Iraq back in 2003. But that “something” wasn’t what Mark wanted to tell me, it was about the USS Kearsarge sightings in the fall of 2021. That ship was in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the US during training workups with the Navy PHIBRON (Amphibious Squadron) and Marine Integration (PMINT) training units on Oct. 18–26, 2021. Mark was not on the vessel but was familiar with the case.

The USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) is an 843 foot long Wasp-class amphibious transport dock ship. The Navy guys call them “Gator Freighters”. It has a flight deck for the helos and the MV-22B tilt-rotor Osprey and a 13,600-square-foot well deck below, which opens to the sea for landing craft to transit to the beach. The giant air cushion landing craft or LCACs can also hover out of the well-deck for beach assaults. Kearsarge is part of a larger three-ship Expeditionary Strike Group or ESG under the command of the Navy’s 2nd fleet.

The Marine Corps uses these ships, which the Navy operates, to transport their MEUs or “Marine Expeditionary Units”, comprised of both air and ground infantry elements to hot spots around the globe as force projection. These ESGs come complete with supporting Navy destroyers, a cruiser, and a sub. The Marines embarked on USS Kearsarge in 2021 were part of the 22 MEU. Beginning in October 2021 the Marines of 22 MEU were conducting workups in the Naval Atlantic Operations Areas for an overseas deployment. While the exact whiskey area is not known yet, this is in the general area where Lt. Ryan Graves’s F/A-18 Navy squadron from USS Roosevelt spotted the “Gimbal” UAPs in 2015.

“Most likely just off Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune, possibly as far north as Virginia Beach. Typically W-122 areas.” — Mark Ret. Marine senior officer

South Atlantic Military Range Complexes including “Whiskey Areas” W122, W110, and W72

The MEUs bring together a hodge-podge of land-based Marine units and train up as one cohesive fighting force. This training includes air defense, simulated search and rescue, counter-terrorism, counter UAS, amphibious landings, and air operations.

1st Lt. Taylor Barefoot, a low altitude air defense officer with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, programs a counter-unmanned aircraft system on a Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS) during a predeployment training exercise

According to Mark, this story begins with the Marine’s new Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) Counter-UAS system and LMADIS (Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System). It’s an air defense counter-drone system featuring the Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle. The system features the RADA RPS-42 S-band radar and the Sierra Nevada Modi electronic warfare system jammer. When aboard the ship the crews will sometimes park their LMADIS on the flight deck. This may be part of restricted maneuvering training where an LHD has to transit a canal en route and becomes more vulnerable to attack. So the air defense artillery units park the LMADIS on the deck and stand watch for air threats.

U.S. Marines with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) transport the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS) aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8)

According to Mark, this is where the story begins. . During this underway the Marines operating the LMADIS unit on the USS Kearsarge were standing watch at night when suddenly they visually spotted two “car-sized” lighted objects following the ship a half-mile behind them and approx. 200 feet in the air. They tried to gain a track using the FLIR thermal targeting optics and could not. Likewise, it’s unclear if the crew could get a radar lock. So they switched to the video camera and sure enough, these two objects came into view and they began recording. While Mark has the basics of what happened next, this was related to him from a shipmate. Some details are a little unclear. He said they tracked these objects for several nights.

“Each ball of light was .5 miles behind the ship at 200' doing shackle turns in November. About the size of a car is what I am told.” — Mark ret. Marine senior officer

Shackle Turn

Mark related to me that the Marines on the deck, seeing these objects following their ship in homefront waters, wisely considered this some type of training evolution and that these “drones” were a planned surprise to test their skills. So they fired up the counter-UAV tech on the LMADIS truck. He said, according to his source, it had no effect. It’s unclear what type of jamming and available countermeasures the LMADIS unit employs, but Mark said they did not succeed in disrupting the two objects in any way which continued following the vessel.

Based on my previous discovery of the existence of Navy SNOOPIE teams from my 2020 FOIA’s of the 2019 SOCAL event (see my previous article here), it’s likely that the Navy also sent aloft the SNOOPIE teams to gather photo and video evidence.

SNOOPIE team example in 2019 USS Kidd Deck Logs via my FOIA

I also just discovered that the Kearsarge was also training with or actively using the “Drake” AKA “Ghostbusters” counter UAV backpacks, as seen in the ship’s public Facebook photos from operations with 22nd MEU in Oct 2020. I am not sure if they used that system at this time for the UAP sighting.

Image from Kearsarge Public Facebook Page

Mark related that the Kearsarge then sent out comms to HQ, asking the Navy or Marines if they were conducting any drone operations at that time. The reply was negative. “Not ours”. Conventional drones or UAS would be the most obvious culprit, since these objects were low and slow, pacing the ship, and he said they moved back and forth, in “shackle turns” so the object on the left moved to the right and the one on the right moved to the left crossing in the middle. If it’s “not ours”, then who’s drones or stealthy rotorcraft are they? I am not sure the concept of “Chinese military drones operating off nearby commercial ships” would go over too well with those Marines on the flight deck. I will acknowledge that everything is on the table and that is surely on the list above aliens or hyperdimensional inorganic entities and luminous flying squid. I did not hear about any extraordinary flight characteristics from Mark. Just odd-looking and I guess “menacing” lights.

UPDATE On March 24, 2022, the Marines FOIA office finally got back to me with my FOIA requests and said they found no responsive records. By chance, another researcher contacted me and told me he had a whole Marine Corps Kearsarge UAP PowerPoint Slide Presentation on the event sent to him from the Marines. Whaaaa? Yep! — you heard that right. His little FOIA for UAP info scored a PPT. Oh well. Kyle W. for the win on that one. So, frustrated, I picked up the phone and rang up the USMC office. Major Noonan called me back. When I explained what I was asking for, “Can you explain why my FOIA for Kearsarge UAP docs got a “no records” and Kyle’s FOIA for the same thing got a slide show?”. After a few comments that I needed to read the Dept of State FOIA guide (all 900 pages or something), it came down to this: I used the word “unauthorized” UAP, UAV, UAS or drones in my request. Not sure why that mattered, since last I knew UAPs were not authorized to menace Navy warships. But there you have it. Here is a link to the PDF slides:

One Slide From Power Point

Almost everything else was blacked out in the document including photos and maybe even videos.

So we are left wondering, what the hell really happened out there in the Atlantic OPAREA. So many questions, so few answers. It does sound similar to the mysterious case of the 2019 Navy Mystery Drones of the SOCAL. Who knows? Mark said the Kearsarge once again encountered similar objects in January during COMPTUEX workups but it was only one object this time. Did the Navy bring in resources like the Ghostbusters counter-UAV team after the first sighting event? What color were these objects? How long did they follow the ship and how did they first arrive and leave? How many other ships reported them? What were the exact locations of the ship when this happened? I’m sure we will learn more as the story develops and people come forward. Perhaps with the recent establishment of a pentagon UAP office, more will be learned by the public. Or maybe they’ll simply hoover it all up in secret as classified info and a threat to national security. The Men in Black that is.

I have FOIA’s in for the deck logs and command operations reports from USS Kearsarge as well as FOIAs seeking the emails, intel reports, and messages about drones. So far aside from the slides they have all been no records found. I have been frustrated in the past year of the great DoD “UAP transparency”. What once took a couple of months to FOIA, like a deck log, now may take a year. As the Navy is scrutinizing all UAP related FOIAs. Wish me luck.

I can be reached at @dave_beaty on Twitter or



Dave Beaty

Emmy-award winning producer and cinematographer. UFO Researcher and TV Journalist. Documentary filmmaker.